The interviews are conducted by VB Contemporary's director, Vian Borchert. Besides being a multidisciplinary noted international artist. Borchert has been a writer and art critic for over a decade contributing with art articles in a national online newspaper. Borchert gets called upon to cover and write reviews for major retrospectives and exhibitions in world-class American museums.

Photo of artist Albert John Belmont
About the artist: Albert John Belmont is a contemporary artist living and working in New Hampshire. He studied at the Art Institute of Boston in the mid-90s, and then at the University of Florida College of Fine Arts. Belmont’s art centers on the deconstruction of a subject to its critical elements – line and color – to communicate form and emotion. Since 2020, his work has delved into autobiographical explorations of spaces, sleep, quiet experiences, and key memories – most recently through a developing visual memoir series, “Son of ‘77”.
Tell us about your "Beginnings", how did you start your artist journey? How did your childhood influence your creative career path? And, how are your beginnings / childhood "Reflective" within your work? I’ve been drawing as far back as I can remember and later got into painting in my teens, before heading to an art program in Boston after high school. While I’m a champion of observational drawing method of really seeing and studying subjects, I got bored of stopping at realistic depictions as the end product very quickly. I started reading about Minimalists, Cubism, and the Surrealists in 1996, and then took that as a next step. I’d finish the realistic depiction of something required for school and then on my own time blow it all up – strip out what information didn’t feel necessary and get down to lines and colors. At its most basic beginning that meant lines for form and color for feeling or mood. I still do that, but bounce around more now, adding things in and taking them away as I go. It feels a bit like conducting... I bring in some flow and feeling in the lines and create some form through color. It all depends on how I’m going to get the right balance to tell the story in a direct way without a whole lot of extra information getting in the way. My childhood up through early 20s is very present as I’ve started down an autobiographical path in my work over the past few years. My recent pieces have been anchored in exploring writing and music – personal storytelling and concept albums – to drive a visual memoir series titled “Son of ’77.” I see the pieces in the developing series as anchors for pulling out memory, some good and some difficult. I’ve found it exciting how easy it is to discover those key-frames in my life, to see them in color and line – to grab the feelings I’ve had a chance to sit with for some time and give them a home. One thing that fascinates me is how often I hear the phrase “you can’t take it with you” in reference to it being upsetting that what we accumulate in life will stay behind when we die. I have a continuous unsettling feeling that is the opposite – I might take it with me, meaning all the experiences I’ve accumulated, without having a chance to leave them behind before my time here is done. It’s like a race. I feel a fervent need to get it all out there and because of that there is an ever-growing list of ideas, phrases, memories, words, and images that I write down, sketch out, or paint. In a sense, I always feel behind in that way. Or racing.
Photo of artwork Night Drive no.3
Walk us through your day from morning till evening along with your creative process? What does a day for "A.J. Belmont" look like? Where do you find inspiration in the area by which you reside? And, how are your surroundings "Reflective" in your work? My creative process varies depending on my day. I’m a father and I’m often in the car to get kids to school or to appointments. I also work at a university both in administration and as a fine arts instructor. Days that are busy in those ways allow me time to bring in information that really drives my creative process, whether in the car or when talking to other people about what they’re trying to communicate or create. I listen to music, and to artists talk about how they work. That really interests me. There are so many things we can learn from how other people express themselves because we all have a different view. I’ll often pull over when driving to make a note or sketch something as ideas come to me, so that I can work them out later. My overall process when it comes to taking an idea to a painting is a journey that can be fast or slow. Sometimes I’ll have a memory or an image that I draw out in a sketchbook over and over, allowing it to progress. In the case of “Night Drive, no. 3” that process took 22 years, three paintings and many drawings to get to that point where I said “this is it!” In the case of “no. 3” I hadn’t touched it in six years and I saw headlights over a hill while driving in 2022 and the simplicity of it hit me hard. I drew it on the back of an envelope when I stopped the car and that’s what the painting became. Over the past four years I’ve added iPad drawing as step in developing many paintings and drawings – I’ll take a sketch from my paper sketchbook and play with color variations on the iPad before getting my pallet down and getting the paint out. I loved hearing that David Hockney was all in on drawing on an iPad and thought “what a great tool to experiment with.” As for when I’m applying the paint to canvas, it always helps to have music on. If I need a push, I can put on Ben Fold’s Five “The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner” and it gives me a jump start – I was very prolific at the time that album came out in the ‘90s and it brings me into that head-space. I feel the confidence kick in. As for where I live, I’ve bopped around the US a little, but have landed back in New England and am in a wooded area in a small town. The quiet and natural surroundings bring me back to a place on a lake in New Hampshire that was important to me when I was growing up. That comes through in my work. I’d describe the overall feel of my body of work as quiet and that’s where I see that originating.
As an artist, what have been some of the biggest challenges you've faced in your career? And, what have been your best achievements for you personally and professionally? Who are your favorite artists and why do you find their art inspiring? Time and resources are always the biggest challenges. I’ve never starved for ideas, so any time I’ve felt blocked has been short-lived. As I’m older and have many responsibilities, balancing time is tricky – but that said I’ve been making more art in the past two years than at any time since my oldest son was born 20 years ago. When I was first starting out, I had no money and no vehicle so getting materials and getting those materials from place to place was tough! I recently created a drawing depicting a time I walked a 60x60 canvas across Boston because I had no way to get it home – then walked back to buy a second and repeat the process. Talking through the story of the drawing with her, my partner wrote a piece that captures the view from an outside perspective, which I find so intriguing. Being a father to my kids is my greatest personal achievement. They’re all such creative and kind people and as they are adults and becoming adults it’s wonderful to see them grow into their own. Artistically, I’m most proud that my work is uncompromising. I’ve gotten to a place where I feel like I do every piece because I need to or want to – I’m not making things for other people and as a result I think other people get the best of me and the best of my art. Exploring my life through art has been fulfilling and a bit therapeutic. My influences are all over the place. I am influenced stylistically by Cubist work, Matisse, Mondrian, Basquiat’s lines, Wayne Theibaud’s color in shadow, through the emotion and mood of music and lyrics of so many artists including The Beatles, ‘90s Grunge, and a number of newer artists. I also love poetry – I can read a poem by Rudy Francisco and feel the need to draw.
Instagram: @belmont_aj Website: https://www.abelmont.com/